By Alex Walker

The Web Developer’s Keyboard

By Alex Walker

Here’s one from the ‘I.. want.. one..’ department.

Picture it. You’re using your right hand to add elegant flowing curves to a nice header graphic on your Touch Senstive LCD Display, in Photoshop. But why should your left hand be shunned? It is no more, as it taps away at ‘paint bucket’ and ‘magic wand’ keys on your shiny new Optimus Keyboard.

Close upThough still in early production, when complete the Optimus (yes, like the Transformer) will use small OLEDs in each key to display keyboard layouts specific to the application you’re currently using. What is normally an ‘S’ key in Notepad displays a small ‘stamp’ icon when you’re using Photoshop and perhaps a ‘BFG’ in Quake.

True, the product is still ‘in production’, but Art Lebedev say they expect to have it on sale in 2006 at a price comparable to an upmarket mobile phone. I doubt both those points, but if it was on offer the next time I updated my system… it will be mine!

  • This is more than a coincidence, two cool products in as many weeks; surely you’re being compensated for these reviews ;)

  • Not yet, but I’ll say whatever they want for one of these!

    Blame Simon. He sent the link ;)

  • Looks very interesting :D

  • Yeah this is great … it was first shown as a pure design experiment then after being slashdotted they said they would produce it but i wouldn’t be too much confident about ever seeing this on the market anytime soon :)

  • I can see this being a great keyboard. Make sure to post about it when its released so that I can buy one. ;)

  • thorbergdt


  • This is a great idea. Wish I would have thought of it… Hopefully theyy get these things in to production sooner than later, but i’m not getting my hopes up.

  • What great innovation! I too have been drooling over the Optimus. I hope it makes it to market and functions as promised. I better start saving my pennies.

  • yay, that really looks cool, eh!! if its not too expensive, then I think I’ll get one!! ;)

  • i have no idea what that keyboard is doing whatsoever. what’s wrong with what we have?

  • erik

    More Infos about OLEDs at

  • myrdhrin

    Nothing is wrong with what we have but with a keyboard like this you can switch the layout (from QWERTY to AZERTY) or to any other layout wihtout having to reprint the keys. The same keyboard can be used for multiple different application and more specialized application than just a keyboard with letters

  • MatthewHSE

    I hope this will have an ergonomic design; it’s no good to me if it’s a straight keyboard! ;)

  • trakksstarr07

    that would be sooo coool!! it would be very useful, being a devout photoshop user an all, lol. cool product, hopefully itz on the market soon eh?

  • That’s just awesome. If they make an ergonomic version, I will so buy one (even better if it’s wireless).

  • livingjukebox

    looks very cool! I’d like to have one.

  • i have no idea what that keyboard is doing whatsoever. what’s wrong with what we have?

    That’s the spirit! New things and innovation are for the birds! :P

  • Curious One

    I’m wondering, could we build the equivalent device now? Just about every webcam has a utility/game that will put you in a fake scene (blue/green screen) like the evening weather report. If you had 1 or 2 cameras pointed at a monitor, the video would give data on when/where you touched it, and highlight the icon and give a tone. Walla, instant touch-screen/interactive keyboard. This would also work with projected images. You would be able to have animated icons, variable shape/placement of keys or hot spots. Sounds like a perfect app for an older pc on the home network, or a second monitor. And you could have one tommorow, not next year.

    Yes, I do know what I’m talking about, and yes I am a genius.

  • I could see the technology working as you say it will. But I think the tactile response that a keyboard gives you is still quite crucial to the process of typing, and hard to reproduce with a monitor.

  • Curious One

    Good point. And you are correct.

    The tactile response CAN’T be duplicated by a straight video display/camera setup. The only way I can think of to do that would be to project the image onto a blank keyboard. The image would be applied from without, not within.

    Of course, you could still have this going in a couple of days, and use the keyboard of your choice.

    HMMMM… I wonder, If you’re using the video camera setup, the keyboard wouldn’t even need to be connected to anything. A reflective board with some kind of marker beacon leds to act as a screen, with some blank spring-loaded keys on it would work.

    Actually, the idea I’m leaning towards is a flat rear-projection surface setup as a desktop or auxilliary display with a couple of cheap webcams fixed on the display surface.

    This technology would also work for a 6-dof (degree of freedom) mouse (ala $400 spaceball used in CADCAM work).

    Too bad I’m not a programmer, just a goofball.

  • synergetic

    I’ve already got an “email cup” from that guys () and it is very nice. So I hope to see this magic keyboard on my desk too :)

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